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Medical gas pipelines, liquid oxygen tanks installed in hospitals to improve healthcare services, cut treatment costs

Medical gas pipelines and liquid oxygen tanks are ready for use and will cut treatment costs and improve healthcare services in rural hospitals, following a recent handover ceremony of the equipment and facilities.
Supported by Unitaid and the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) in Laos, medical gas pipelines were installed at six hospitals and liquid oxygen tanks were placed at three hospitals.

This assistance is part of a continuing effort to improve the availability, quality and low price of medical oxygen.
Deputy Minister of Health Dr Phayvanh Keophaseuth; the Deputy Governor of Xayaboury province, Mr Phetphixay Sounvilay; and CHAI’s Vice President for essential medicines, Mr Zachary Katz, chaired the handover ceremony, which took place at Xayaboury Provincial Hospital.
The event included opening remarks from key stakeholders, a tour of the piped wards in the hospital, and a demonstration of the pipeline system operations.
With this support, the Ministry of Health is shifting the primary oxygen delivery mechanism in Laos from high-cost, low-volume cylinders to bulk storage tanks that utilise more efficient bulk liquid oxygen, adding 33,000 litres of additional storage capacity that is equivalent to over 500 COVID-19 patient treatments per refill.
“Unitaid’s support for the installation of oxygen piping at six provincial hospitals will ensure improved treatment of patients as well as maintaining an uninterrupted delivery of high-flow medical oxygen gas to beds,” Dr Phayvanh said.
“It will make the lives of healthcare workers easier, as they will not need to push large oxygen cylinders around beds and wards multiple times a day.”
The project has been funded by Unitaid, an international organisation that works to improve access to life-saving health products in low- and middle-income countries.
CHAI, a global health organisation that works to improve access to essential medicines and health services, provided technical support for the project.
The total support from Unitaid is valued at over US$1 million, with projects in Attapeu, Bokeo, Khammuan, Xayaboury and Luang Prabang provinces, and the capital Vientiane.
The activities under the project are being led by the Department of Healthcare and Rehabilitation at the Ministry of Health.
“We are honoured to partner with the Lao government to support this project. Our focus now will be to ensure that all equipment functions effectively, and to ensure oxygen is delivered to all patients who need it,” said Zachary Katz from CHAI.
“In addition to the direct investments from Unitaid, this project has helped influence investments from other health partners including the Global Fund, the World Health Organisation, Luxembourg Development, and the United States Agency for International Development.”
“These partners have invested a combined US$1.2 million for infrastructure and service readiness in five provinces. While there is still more to do, it is great to be part of a shared effort to improve the healthcare system in Laos.”
About the Department of Healthcare and Rehabilitation, Ministry of Health, Lao PDR
The Department of Healthcare and Rehabilitation is one of the key departments under Laos’ Ministry of Health. The main responsibilities of the department include the design and implementation of government policies concerning the treatment and rehabilitation of patients. The department is instrumental in the tracking, managing, and preparedness of COVID-19 efforts, along with oxygen system strengthening and scale-up of respiratory therapeutics.
About Unitaid
Unitaid is a global health initiative that works with partners to bring about innovations to prevent, diagnose and treat major diseases in low- and middle-income countries, with an emphasis on tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV/AIDS and respiratory care. Founded in 2006, the organisation also funds the final stages of research and development of new drugs, diagnostics, and disease-prevention tools, helps produce data supporting guidelines for their use, and works to allow more affordable generic medicines to enter the marketplace in low- and middle-income countries.
About CHAI Lao PDR
The Clinton Health Access Initiative is an international non-governmental organisation committed to saving lives and reducing the burden of disease in low-and middle-income countries. CHAI began partnering with the Lao government in 2014 to support a reform of the country’s supply chain system, aimed at improving the quality of patient care through better access to medicines, diagnostics, and health products. Since 2014, CHAI has expanded its support to the government to include programmes in Communicable Disease, Maternal, Child and Reproductive Health, COVID-19, and Health Systems Strengthening.

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